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2 Up, 2 Down: What was hot and what was not from Sunderland’s draw at Rochdale

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Our panel struggled to find positives from the first defeat of the season last weekend, what will they find to cling on to after a midweek draw at Rochdale? Let’s find out in this round of 2 Up, 2 Down...

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Martin Wanless says..

It’s hard to find too many positives from this game, but Gooch’s return to form in a role he – at times – excelled in last season was a positive. On his day, he’s a very dangerous player for us, and looked like the only one who was likely to cause the Rochdale defence problems. Two assists, after setting up our goal against Crewe a week ago, bodes well for a player who, while frustrating at times, is possibly out most effective attacker.

I’m really scratching around for another positive now, but it’s a point. We didn’t get beat, we got a point that we probably deserved, and it’s another one on the board. Whether it’s a valuable point – or two points dropped – come the end of the season, remains to be seen. It could be the former, likely the latter and more likely it won’t make any difference whatsoever.

You can go into individual displays – Power and Dobson in particular were appalling – however the biggest negative for me was the overall team performance, compounded by Phil Parkinson’s post match comments that we were ‘very, very good’ in the second half. No Phil. We were not.

We were pedestrian, one dimensional, and apart from in the last five minutes we never looked like troubling the Rochdale keeper – an 18-year-old who’d made a poor mistake for our second. We looked laboured, abject and as far from a championship winning team as you could imagine.

To be fair, Rochdale barely threatened to add to their two goals, but they didn’t really need to. They passed the ball around far better than we did, and it was simply not good enough.

A bench containing Graham, O’Brien, Leadbitter and Grigg offers little opportunity to change the game, and it seems Parkinson’s doubling down on Plan A. And if Plan A doesn’t work we’ll try Plan A again.

A bench containing Kimpioka, Neil and Diamond at least offers the opportunity to change the game, to get a spark and give the opposition something different to worry about. But it seems Parkinson’s simply not willing to give these players any sort of a chance.

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Visionhaus

Kelvin Beattie says...

First for the positives, and Sanderson made a reasonable debut on a bad night for us. He generally looked strong in the tackle and good in the air. Some good use of the ball in possession and a couple of well timed runs down the right flank. I didn’t blame him for the 2nd goal, Dobson lost his bearings for me and ended up clattering Sanderson.

Wyke scored again which has to be another positive. Whilst not knocking us out with his performance, Charlie continued his good scoring run with a well taken goal. I wish he would stop giving easy fouls away especially when defenders are facing their goal, but tonight he makes the “up” column for his goal.

On to the negatives, this was simply a poor team performance. Both their goals were the result of poor defending. The midfield were very wasteful in possession and Denver Hume had a very mixed night, defensively and offensively.

Once again Maguire was not at his best and seemed to slow play down when it needed speeded up. Conor McLaughlin also flattered to deceive his lazy style when in possession often gifting the ball back to Rochdale.

Once again I felt we had no plan B. Poor use of subs available. I fail to see the logic in having such an experienced bench and not using all of them. The first sub came on far to late to really affect the game, sadly a case of too little to late as we upped the tempo and almost won it at the death.

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

Firstly we drew, and didn’t lose. We could have lost, but we may well have nicked it if the bar hadn’t rattled late on from Power (with the first decent thing he did all night), or if Danny Graham could cushion the header away from the keeper for the rebound.

Secondly, we didn’t get anyone else sent off and we didn’t get any more injuries. Sanderson did OK on his full debut among a team that widely underperformed.

For two games in a row we had large spells where we weren’t at the races, failing to compete and giving the ball away cheaply. This has got to be fixed. We have a squad for a reason and if the so called experienced first XI show this level of form, then they should be rotated out on principle and to recognise that isn’t acceptable.

Get some balls Parkinson and show them it isn’t ok to play like this!

Lastly, we have no midfield, why pretend we do by putting two nothing performers there repeatedly? All game we either went wide or long from the back, and if the opposition works out that all we have is a wide or long ball game, they will drive up the middle and embarrass us time and again. We need some creativity on the park as we’re currently playing with nine men and it ain’t working.

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images